Experiments in Perspective - The Inner Censorate

Of the eleven perspective gaining tricks Susan Bell lists in The Artful Edit there are five that are less than a page, three of which are obvious;y defined in their title (The Font, The Environment and The Big Break) and therefore are short because they’re relatively straightforward, the others are The Clock (not leaving any time between finishing a draft and revising it) which I’ll cover at some point and the Inner Censorate.

The idea with the Inner Censorateis that you have a mental boardroom filled with a group of people with diverse beliefs and behaviours, according to Bell, some use people they know, others imagined characters - like the foul-mouthed drill sergeant who hates poetry. This board would then be reading along with you and all too ready to give their opinions immediately when something they dislike crops up.

To me The Inner Censorate, whilst quickly explained and simple as a concept, was harder to try and utilise. In fact, I’m curious as to why it was given such a short segment in the book - not because it needed to be explained more - but because the anecdotes for other sections were more lengthy and clear. It seems the Inner Censorate is something that exists and is utilised entirely in someone’s mind and is, therefore, much more difficult to explain the technical workings of, which may be part of the reason that section is so short. Possibly also why I’ve had trouble getting into the correct frame of mind to utilise it. It seems either a) I’m editing too closely, still hunting for sentences that seem stiff or stilted rather than taking a broader eagle-eye approach (which may make the censorate board a little more useful) or b) my inner censorate isn’t particularly clear in my head nor particularly vocal. Both of which I imagine are problems given how Bell described it in the book.

Either way, I’ve tried it several times now with my current draft at different times of day, with varying levels of concentration, caffeine and attention and haven’t managed to get anything particularly useful out of the method, as such, unfortunately there’s not much more I can offer with regards to this particular one. Maybe I’ll have better luck trying to gain perspective with The Clock.